Liz Cheney Is Right

Liz Cheney in Buffalo, Wyoming, photo by Milonica

I’ve seen appreciation for Liz Cheney recently, because of her stance against Trump and nativism. She’s been outspoken in her condemnation. She voted for impeachment after the January coup attempt. She’s been clear that she would rather lose her leadership position than toe the Trumpist line. In light of that, she’s been hailed by some as one of the rare honest Republican politicians, and by others as one of the rare honest Republicans, period. She’s been encouraged to leave the Republican party because it’s a sinking ship and it will only take her down with it.

They’re wrong. She’s right.

People like to look at trends and demographics when they predict the death of the Republican party. They make predictions about how Florida or Texas is going to “go blue” and how that will signal the permanent relegation of the Republicans to regional party status. It is said that the party is irredeemable.

The part about redemption may well be correct, but none of the other predictions are, at least not until such time as a third party receives enough support to be considered a viable alternative. Until that happens, neither the Republicans nor the Democrats are going anywhere. It doesn’t matter what their policy might be or the history of their politicians. All that matters is that they exist and they’re not the other party.

The United States government is functionally a two-party system. This view has been upheld by no less a body than the full bench of a state supreme court; in 2002, when Senator Robert Torricelli was proven to have solicited tens of thousands of dollars in bribes, his crimes diminished his approval to a level where he was considered unelectable. The NJ Democratic party arranged to have him removed from the ballot and replaced with a well-liked retired Senator, Frank Lautenberg. A court case ensued because the date was more than a month past the final cut-off allowed by state law for replacing a candidate. Officially, Torricelli could resign and be removed from the ballot, but he could not be replaced. This was the opportunity that some of the more than ten smaller parties on the ticket had been awaiting… being seen as the main alternative to the the generally-unpopular Republicans. Instead, the NJ Supreme Court found unanimously for the Democratic argument, that without a Democrat on the ticket NJ voters would only have the Republicans as a valid choice.

This would seem to be counterbalanced by the fact that independents have won high office, but that is deceptive. While high-profile individuals have been able to win office, none have been able to manufacture a successful party in the wake of their wins. That takes an amount of money and organization well beyond their means, even if they are a media figure like Jesse Ventura, a beloved activist like Bernie Sanders or a billionaire like Michael Bloomberg.

The binary option argument has been perpetuated by the Republicans and Democrats. It has been seen in the decision of friendly media outlets to minimize bookings of alternatives, in overt campaigns against third parties (ranging from fearmongering about “the other candidate” to blaming third parties for losses using the assumption that all of those votes would naturally have migrated to the loser) and in the shifting requirements for third party candidates to get into Gubernatorial and Presidential debates. It’s proven very useful to both parties.

This situation results in parties being able to define themselves not by principle nor even by policy but simply by not being their opposition. This has been seen in recent years where Trump ran a successful campaign on not being Hillary, and Biden ran a successful campaign on not being Trump.

Until such time as a new party rises, all the Republicans have to do in order to come back into power is to not be the Democrats. Their time in the wilderness may be longer or shorter depending on what positions they choose for an ever-shifting platform, but they will remain and they will rise. It will happen because people will be dissatisfied with events while Democrats are in charge and they will want change enough to risk any alternative. It’s a scenario that has played out in governments throughout world history, one which has been averted only by violence and oppression. If life is going well for too long under one group, people can be convinced that another group could govern better. When problems arise, a change is demanded. Even dictatorships and monarchies experience this process, typically in the form of rebellions.

Cheney might be better served to be at the head of a major new national party, but that party will need money for organization and promotion. Were there a Ross Perot willing to fund a new version of the Reform party, she could be reasonably advised to jump ship. No such party exists.

Even if one does arise – and I’ve clearly hoped for such, even before the most recent election – Cheney would be poorly positioned. While she’s speaking well at the moment, many people would remember that she voted against impeachment at the end of 2019, despite ample evidence of Trump’s malfeasance and corruption. If she could get past that, she would face the binary option in the 2024 election… Republicans, whether or not they’d discarded Trumpism, would frame a vote for her as a vote that would keep Biden in power, and Democrats would frame a vote for her as a vote to bring Trumpism back. She would face a similar blowback to that seen when Justin Amash voiced interest in even creating an exploratory committee for 2020.

Instead, she is setting herself up as the alternative candidate. The alternative in the GOP to Donald Trump and Trumpism, whether for the 2024 Presidential race or simply as a national leader; and, should she run for President, as the alternative to the 2024 Democratic candidate should the economy nosedive or the COVID-19 pandemic be mishandled or inflation skyrocket or Islamists emboldened by the Afghan pullout begin domestic terror campaigns… any possible pitfalls available for a fickle populace who have managed to forget, ignore and excuse some of the worst actions of past Presidents. In her efforts against Trump she should be supported, if only because it allows one of the better people among the current crop of GOP leadership to be in a position to deflect a resurgence of nativism in the event of a Biden catastrophe.

Liz Cheney is displaying both strength and cunning. It’ll never be enough to convince me to vote for her, but she’s acting in a way that is simultaneously best for the country and best for her career.

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About AlienMotives 1991 Articles
Ex-Navy Reactor Operator turned bookseller. Father of an amazing girl and husband to an amazing wife. Tired of willful political blindness, but never tired of politics. Hopeful for the future.